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August 2010 Leaving Christianity for Real Faith?
A Response to Anne Rice's Decision to "Quit Christianity"
Greetings!
 
Fred PlumerIt was over ten years ago that I heard the startling comment: "I don't think of myself as a Christian anymore, but I do think of myself as a follower of Jesus." It was not the comment in itself that was so startling but rather the source. The individual who said those words was a well known professor of early Christianity and a biblical scholar. He was also a teacher in a seminary that was training students for the ministry. He had just finished a keynote on early Christianity at a conference that I was attending and had opened the microphone to questions from the audience. His talk had covered an overview of the first 350 years of Christianity with an emphasis on the political and economic powers that had influenced the development and nature of the Christian church. It was a fascinating and revealing lecture.

At one point someone from the audience had asked: "With all that you have covered here, do you still call yourself a Christian?"

Click HERE to continue reading President Fred Plumer's letter
Anne Rice Quits Christianity
By: Michael Rowe
For the Huffington Post


Ironically, author Anne Rice may have been more of a Christian yesterday than she ever was when she announced
Anne Rice
on Facebook, that she was quitting Christianity and renouncing any claim to the title "Christian."  "For those who care,"
she wrote, "and I understand if you don't: Today I quit being a Christian. I'm out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being 'Christian' or to being part of Christianity. It's simply impossible for me to 'belong' to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I've tried. I've failed. I'm an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else."

Earlier this week on her public Facebook page, Rice had expressed her horror and revulsion at two different news stories that shared similar themes.   The first was the co-opting of the "Christian" imprimatur by the GOP-linked "Christian punk rock" band You Can Run But You Cannot Hide, supported by Michele Bachmann, who believe that gays should be executed, and who deride America for not being "moral enough" to make homosexuality a capital crime like it is in Iran. The second story was an exposť of a seven-year old boy who had been indoctrinated into Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church, whose sole great commission is virulent hatred.

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Real Belief Is a Personal Search for Truth
By: Deepak Chopra
Can you leave religion and keep Christ? Can you be spiritual without being religious?
Deepak Chopra
Faith lingers, one way or another, in every society. For those who have given up on Christianity, there's a newly coined term, "cultural Christian," to describe the half-hearted believer or the timid atheist who doesn't want to be labeled as such. Unlike being pregnant or dead, which holds no middle ground, fence-sitting about God is so common that it might even be the majority position.
The question is whether being a cultural Christian, accepting the trappings of faith without the substance, is viable. Or must a person take stronger, more positive steps toward a different kind of spirituality?

Breaking away can be soul-wrenching. It was meant to be. Organized religion tries to convince us that it has the patent on God, some faiths more loudly than others. Buddhism has no central authority or required attendance, while at the other extreme the fundamentalist branches of Christianity and Islam mandate daily prayers and hold the threat of damnation over those who don't attend services. Fewer people are intimidated these days, however. Spiritual coercion seems to be on the wane. The number of regular worshippers has fallen sharply and continuously for decades in Europe, and although South America and the U.S. are considered more religious societies, the numbers are slipping there as well.

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Hear the Rumble of Christian Hypocrisy
By: Richard Dawkins
The evangelist who says the Haiti earthquake is retribution for sin is at least true to his religion
Richard Dawkins
We know what caused the catastrophe in Haiti. It was the bumping and grinding of the Caribbean Plate rubbing up against the North American Plate:   a force of nature, sin-free and indifferent to sin, unpremeditated, unmotivated, supremely unconcerned with human affairs or human misery.

 The religious mind, however, hubristically appropriates the blind happenings of physics for petty moralistic purposes. As with the Indonesian tsunami, which was blamed on loose sexual morals in tourist nightclubs; as with Hurricane Katrina, which was attributed to divine revenge on the entire city of New Orleans for organizing a gay rally; and as with other disasters going back to the famous Lisbon earthquake and beyond, so Haiti's tragedy must be payback for human "sin".

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Are the New Atheists Wrong to Suggest Religious Moderates Justify the Extremes?
By Be Scofield for Tikkun Daily
Do Liberals Aid and Abet the Most Dangerous Religions?
Be Scofield
I want your opinion about something. I'm a liberal religious person who doesn't believe in doctrines, dogma or a supernatural God. 19% of members in my tradition identify as atheist, 30% as agnostic and the rest Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Pagan or otherwise. Many of us have been wounded by the bigotry, homophobia and dogma in the religions we grew up in and find refuge, support and community in my tradition. We come together on Sunday mornings to enjoy music and hear sermons about social justice, the power of community and how to live inspiring and meaningful lives. Some ministers may use the word God in an all-inclusive way but most choose to avoid the term because of its troubled history. Here's my question for you: Should I abandon my tradition because liberal and moderate religion serves to justify the extremes? Is my participation in this religious institution providing legitimacy and credibility for fundamentalism, violence, oppression and bigotry done in the name of religion? I'm studying to be a minister in this tradition. It's called Unitarian Universalism. Am I guilty by association? Should I jump ship? What do you think?

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An Open Letter to Anne Rice
By: Justin McRoberts, Christian Musician
The Traditional Christian Perspective
Justin McRoberts
Dear Anne,
I am sure that this post is one among many responding to your announcement that you are disassociating yourself from Christianity.  You wrote that your disgust with "this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group" has led you to the conclusion that you "simply cannot belong" to us.

I feel you, Anne. I really do.  I've had similar thoughts and even expressed them publicly. I don't mind at all the desire or even the need to stand at some distance from the label of Christianity.  It may well have been worn through.  But I take issue with the notion that you must disassociate  yourself from 'christian' people. I mean sure, we're a motley lot.  Belonging to this family can often feel like you've adopted a few thousand drunk uncles.  It's incredibly embarrassing at times and frustrating at least as often. I get it.  But I also read that you're making your move "in the name of Christ" and that presents a rather perplexing dilemma for someone who wants to quit on people.  You see, Christ hasn't quit on us and if you choose to align yourself with Him, then neither can you.

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Review of: The Passion of the Greeks
Christianity and the Rape of the Hellenes
Review By: Dean Watt
Evaggelos G. Vallianatos
Clock & Rose Press, Cape Cod.  2006
book cover
"Passion" is not only part of the content of this book, but is also its tone throughout.  It is made clear from the beginning that Vallianatos cares very deeply about his message.  His first name, Evaggelos seems appropriate, as he conveys his story with an "evangelistic" fervor.  As we learn his personal and family history his passion becomes understandable. 

Evaggelos was born and raised on the island of Kephalonia, the largest of the group of western Greek islands between Greece and Italy.  Born and raised by a devout Christian mother, in a culture with a long and pervasive Christian history, he had some experiences that began to bring disturbing questions to his mind.  A brief moment with a priest who was likely a pedophile disgusted him and made him continue his wish to probe the elements still present from his ancient Greek past.
In his teens he learned of the role Christianity had played in the attempted destruction of the truly remarkable culture that had once been Greece.  He became very angry and began his life-long effort to correct what he believed was one of history's greatest wrongs.

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Some of our Favorite Responses to Rice's Decision
Readers Respond
Comments from all perspective that made us smile...or laugh..or in some cases wring our hands in frustration

"Thanks for the hateful and uninspiring rants. I'm sure Our Lady of Prompt Succor is weeping at your infidelity;"

"The One True Church is not the problem, Anne. People who place their own wisdom, opinions, pride, malice, and arrogance above the Church are the problem"

"the answer is: with total love and forgiveness. Or wait, probably the opposite of that."

"the only thing wrong with religion is organization as soon as it becomes a bureaucracy, the meaning is lost avoiding the whole "Sky Fairies don't exist" side of things momentarily Christianity at it's most basic level has 2 simple rules: 1. Love God 2. Love your neighbour as yourself.  That is it. Nothing else." JohnnieGoat

"Leave her alone. She's just an ordinary Christ-follower who you can get on happily with rather than a nutcase Christ-follower who hates everyone." ringtaillemur

"It's just a matter of defining your terms. She's viewing 'Christians' in the same way that Ghandi did: the acts of 'Christians', according to Rice, include the many atrocities committed by the Church in the name of evangelism and the annihilation of what they believed to be heresy; the horrendous attitude to women (again, not a criticism that you can level exclusively at our religion but which has perhaps taken centre stage of late given its failure to catch up with the rest of the world); the Vatican's decision to cover up abuse...for Rice, being a 'Christian' means buying in to this establishment, and those who complain of the double standard ought to concede that the sort of outrage at the religious right has had far more media prominence over the last couple of years. Perhaps when she converted she was genuinely unaware of how bad things really were. I've had friends who've gone on the same journey.
The word 'Christian' ought to mean 'follower of Christ', and if we were really doing that then there wouldn't be all this fuss." reverend61

"As a gay man, and Christian, I absolutely agree with her sentiments -- however, I, for one, will not surrender the term "Christian" to a minority of misguided, self-righteous, bigots. In many ways I see an analogy to bigotry my Muslim brothers and sisters are facing by those who denounce all Islam and fight against their right to build a mosque in New York because of 9/11" Jim McDougald

"This stance makes it seems as though the people that support these kinds of agendas define "Christianity." I am a proud Christian and I define what that means for myself. " Aaron Hewitt

"I am reminded of Bono's well-known onstage introduction to "Helter Skelter": "This is a song Charles Manson stole from the Beatles. We're stealin' it back." I embrace Ms. Rice's views whole-heartedly, but it makes me nuts that so many idiots have stolen the common understanding of "Christian." I'd rather that the progressives "steal it back"!" Jesica Johnston Butler

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